And a roundup of the week's stop news on marriage and religion, egg freezing, and more
I'm going to differ somewhat in the statement on beauty because I think we Christians have a deeper understanding. He's right about the basics, but lacks the metaphysical understanding which tells us why beauty is so absolutely subversive:
Beauty is the irruption of God's presence through the veil of immanence, a brief glimpse of what G.M. Hopkins called the artist's signature in the haeccitas of the object of perception. Beauty is the evidence of God's claim to ownership and creation over all things in existence. It's the proof that Man can obfuscate and cloak Being, can mar it with sin, can lie with fancy philosophic conceptions, but he can never fully efface the Maker's Mark.
And the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a misunderstanding. It doesn't mean subjectivism or perspectivism. Beauty appears to Man in the same way that God makes his presence known - in the transcendent vision that sees beyond the mere superficiality of the immanent. The poet, the prophet, the (true) philosopher, and the aesthete are reaching toward the same thing - a glimpse of the living presence of the Lord God. Plato describes beauty in the Symposium as an erotic drive to possess and be possessed by the sublime, and just like ordinary love it is intensely personal.
People turning to beauty is always a turn away from the immanent, from the superficial, and from the immediate. That is dangerous to the modern regime, because it bypasses all their control mechanisms, all their disciplines, and devalues all their temptations. It reveals the ugliness of modernity, of consumerism, of cosmopolitanism, of the whole End of History vision of the globalist liberal order. Beauty turns our eyes away from the unworthy, just as the eyes of the lover turn away from all but the beloved. There's a very good chapter in Bess' book, Till We Have Built Jerusalem, that absolutely condemns the modern church for its architectural embrace of ugliness, in the Big Box Mega-auditorium, the parking-lot pave-it-all approach to church grounds, and so forth. The Church abandoned beauty, and it wonders why it can't feel the presence of God.
There are certainly dangerous and disordered approaches to beauty, which can draw us off the path. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are certainly subject to them. We should be aware of this, and rather than devaluing beauty as such we must acknowledge it for the sacred value that it is. God looked on the world he created and saw that it was Good. And the Beautiful is the Good. Moreover, the Socratic truth is valid for us Christians, that Love is the magnetic force drawing us toward the Beautiful and the Good, and that these are signature weapons that the Lord places in our hands for our battle against the antichrists of This World.
Here are two men discussing the war on men.
I'm an older millennial and many of my peers continue to leave churches into their early 40s for many different reasons but to me they boil down to this: even if you're married, or grew up in a stable, two parent home, there is just very little keeping you in a church. If it's not central to your social life or worldview then it's just a burden, few people have a community which makes the faith real and impactful daily.